The PGA Tour returns this week to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the CIMB Classic – the second event of the 2017-2018 season and the first no-cut event we’ll see. TPC Kuala Lumpur is a course that encourages low scoring, as seen in Justin Thomas’ 23-under ousting Hideki Matsuyama by a stroke. This is no surprise, as the course checks in right at 7,000 yards and is only a Par-72, with only one of the Par 5s eclipsing the 540-yard mark. Because of these factors, look for stats such as Birdie or Better Percentage, Birdie Average, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Par 5 Scoring, and Proximity on Approaches to be the important ones for this week.
So, after looking at the stats as well as course history and recent form, we honed in on our two Must-Haves for this week….
Brendan Steele (FantasyDraft: $16,400 DraftKings: $8,300 FanDuel: $8,400)
Course History: T25 (‘13), T3 (‘15), T26 (‘16)
Recent Form: T56, T44, 1st
This is the second straight week that we have listed Steele as a Must-Have, and for good reason. The fact that Steele is so drastically underpriced this week after coming off a win is pretty incredible as is. Then, factor in his course history here over his past three appearances, and there is a lot to love about Steele.
Last week, Steele was absolutely on fire with his driver and approaches, gaining strokes of 6.2 and 6.4 respectively with those aspects of his game. In 2016, after winning the Safeway Open the first time, Steele was in solid form with his driver, gaining 6.2 strokes at Silverado Resort last season as well, but had not been as sharp with his approaches (1.6 strokes gained). However, in 2015, Steele used his irons well at the Safeway Open (3.1 strokes gained), leading to his T3 at the CIMB a few weeks later. While those types of circumstances might not necessarily correlate on a year by year basis, it is good to know that when Steele has his irons and driver both going well, he seems to play well at TPC Kuala Lumpur. Look for Steele to continue his solid play this week at a course he is familiar with as well. He’s quite the bargain this week.
Grayson Murray (FantasyDraft: $15,200 DraftKings: $8,100 FanDuel: $6,800)
Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T25, T51, T9
Murray is in an interesting situation relative to that of Brendan Steele. Murray also played well last week (T9), so he has solid form coming in like Steele. However, where Murray catches our eye is with his statistics. In terms of Strokes Gained on Par 5’s, he is the leader in this field (over the last 50 rounds). On top of that, Murray is scoring with the best of them, ranking 2nd in this field in Birdie or Better Percentage. His proximity stats are better than most in this field, ranking 26th overall in proximity.
Murray is also playing the best golf of his career so far, even though his recent finishes might not suggest that. But after his win at the Barbasol Championship a couple months ago with a weakened field, Murray saw solid finishes of T22 at the PGA Championship, 62nd at the Northern Trust, 25th at the Dell Championship, and 51st at the BMW. Now, we get that those finishes are not top-10’s or even top-20’s, but you have to take into account the type of fields he was playing against. At the three PLAYOFF events, second in field intensity behind majors (and maybe WGC and THE PLAYERS), he not only made the cut at the first two cut events, but finished 25th at the Dell. That is a solid finish compared to the rest of the field, which consisted of the 100 best golfers in the FedEx Cup Standings. Now a T9 at the Safeway Open, along with stats chemistry with TPC Kuala Lumpur, and we love Murray to slide under the radar this week amidst the mid-tier names surrounding him such as Gary Woodland, Kevin Na, Jason Dufner, etc. Don’t be surprised if he notches his second win on Tour this week – which could spark a successful sophomore season for the promising Murray.